How to play a Minor song (Summertime) on a Major harmonica

Many people think it's impossible to play in minor keys on a major key harmonica - I'm here to reveal the truth to you!

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How to play a Minor song (Summertime) on a Major harmonica

Learn this song in three minor keys on a major key harmonica - D minor, E minor, A minor

Ever wanted to play a groovy minor-key tune on your harmonica?

Do you need a minor key harmonica? No - although they are excellent instruments.

I'll show you how to play one tune in 3 minor keys on one normal harmonica.

I'll also show you 7 positions, 7 modes, and 7 pentatonic scales to help you improvise.

"Summertime" is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin.

The song soon became a popular and much-recorded jazz standard, described as "without a doubt ... one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote ... Gershwin's highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century". Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has characterized Heyward's lyrics for "Summertime" and "My Man's Gone Now" as "the best lyrics in the musical theater"

All seven modes in the middle register

These can be played all across the harmonica using bent notes.

C Ionian major mode 4 -4 5 -5 6 -6 -7 7 (1st position)

D Dorian minor mode (show you inside)

E Phrygian minor mode (show you inside)

F Lydian major mode (show you inside)

G Mixoydian major mode (show you inside)

A Aeolian minor mode (show you inside)

B Locrian minor mode (show you inside)

By the way, ‘Modes’ is a concept used by all instruments not just the harmonica. It’s in standard music theory.

‘Positions’ is a concept used by many instruments but has different meanings so Harmonica Positions is exclusive to the harmonica.

Your Instructor

Ben Hewlett
Ben Hewlett

Ben Hewlett is passionate about teaching people like you how to play the harmonica really well.

Ben's video courses are here and if you prefer pesonal coaching and mentoring from Ben please visit

He works hard using his teaching skills to figure out how he can help you get better as a player, understand more, have more fun, and he hopes you will enjoy sharing his love of the harmonica and music in general.

He has attracted nearly 50,000 on-line harmonica students with 70,000 courses purchased and has nearly 5 thousand Youtube subscribers showing nearly 2 million views. They can't all be wrong!

Ben is the ex-Vice-President and ex-Chairman of HarmonicaUK - the community for UK harmonica players

He has been a full-time Professional Harmonica Instructor since 1995

Ben is a qualified harmonica teacher and was awarded the Accredited Diatonic Harmonica Teacher Certificate in 1993 - HTAB (Harmonica Teachers Accreditation Board, supported by Lee Oskar Harmonicas, HarmonicaUK and the International Harmonica Organisation)

Ben is a qualified music workshop leader and was awarded the Certificate of Music Workshop Skills (Goldsmiths University of London) in 1995

Ben is a qualified music teacher and was awarded the Certificate of Teaching - Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in 2002 (CTABRSM)

Course Curriculum

  Let's get a tune done right away
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  Pentatonic scales for improvising
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